Pittsburgh Steelers second-year outside linebacker T.J. Watt recorded three sacks for the team yesterday, the second time this season that he has managed to do so. Though he did not have any sacks in the other three games played, he now has six sacks in the team’s first five, and is just one shy of his rookie season total in 15 games.
It’s also the first time since 2010 that any Steelers defensive player has reached five sacks within the team’s first five games. James Harrison managed to accomplish the feat that year, including a pair of two-sack games in Weeks Two and Five for five total.
— Dom Rinelli (@drinelli) October 7, 2018
Watt’s six sacks are also the most since 2009, when Harrison—again—had six in the first five games of the 2009 season. That included a big three-sack game in Week Five in Detroit. No player had more than six in the past decade.
But, again, it was Harrison. During his franchise-record 16-sack season in 2008, he managed to put up six and a half sacks in the Steelers’ first five games. That included three sacks in the season opener against the Houston Texans. He had two and a half in Week Four against the Baltimore Ravens before tipping the scales past six with another sack a week later in Jacksonville.
LaMarr Woodley also had five and a half in the first five games that year. He would have seven and a half after the team’s first six games, recording five and a half sacks over a three-game span from weeks four through six. And Harrison had eight and a half.
So Watt looks good through five games—technically, he is on pace to break the team’s sack record, averaging more than one sack per game—but in terms of Harrison’s pace, he is behind. He will need a sack and a half next week in order to get to where Harrison was in the season in which he broke the team’s single-season sack record.
If he wants to live up to that status, of course, he is going to have to become more consistent. You can’t expect to put up huge season-long numbers when your production only comes in spurts. Unless he has a three-sack game every third game or so, which is highly unlikely.
Even Harrison only had six three-sack games in his Steelers career. Joey Porter also had five, but nobody else in team history has ever done is more than three times. Watt now leads all active Steelers defenders with two such games. Cameron Heyward has done it once and is the only one to have done so, though Bud Dupree had two and a half sacks once.